House debates

Monday, 22 October 2018

Statements by Members

Asylum Seekers

4:32 pm

Photo of Ross HartRoss Hart (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today this parliament issued a national apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. I must acknowledge the extraordinary work that was done to advocate for the royal commission, particularly considering the shameful denial of the truth of child sexual abuse. Today is a day to honour not just those who had the political will to implement a royal commission but also those who argued against the weight of public opinion to garner support for victims and survivors.

The role of public interest advocacy as a tool and driver for change should not be underestimated. I received many representations on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru. I recently wrote to the minister enclosing a great number of personal letters seeking a more compassionate and direct response to the plight of children presently on Nauru. I must say, whenever I receive a letter from a child highlighting the plight of children presently on Nauru, I cannot ignore the fact that there is potential for further shared trauma involved in ignoring the plight of those children.

Just as we facilitated a system whereby the denial of sexual abuse and violence against the abused children was subject to today's apology, we must face the fact that the potential for trauma, for damage to the children on Nauru should be enough to drive us to action. We must act. We must listen to those advocating for their repatriation, medical assessment and treatment.